Government of Canada invests in national security technology
The Canadian Space Agency partners with Waterloo's Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) to protect and enhance Canadians' electronic communications
December 19, 2017 – Longueuil, Quebec
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is awarding $1.5 million to the University of Waterloo's Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) to lead the science of a mission called the Quantum Encryption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat), which will protect the communications and data of Canadians on Earth and in space.
It is estimated that within 10 to 20 years, the encryption codes used by computers today will be easily decoded by high-performing quantum computers, making current encryption technology obsolete.
This investment will advance encryption methods, which use highly advanced computing technology to create unbreakable security codes.
It will enable the CSA to leverage IQC's expertise to enhance Canada's position as a world leader in the emerging market for quantum technology. It will contribute to developing the highly qualified workforce needed in this important sector, and position Canada's space sector to play a critical role in the upcoming quantum technology revolution—a significant global business opportunity.
This initiative aligns with the Government of Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan.
"The development of revolutionary technologies like quantum encryption will provide Canadians with security, safety, reliable government services and protection of their privacy. This investment enables the University of Waterloo to advance Canada's technological and scientific advantage in quantum technologies. It creates new opportunities to develop a highly qualified workforce in Canada and opens new markets and commercial opportunities around the world."
- The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
"Once again, the University of Waterloo is demonstrating its impressive leadership in developing innovative new ideas and technologies. As our economy becomes more globally connected, and more trade is done online, protecting Canadians' digital information has become vitally important. Thanks to today's investment, we are building on Canadian strengths to support the development of new encryption technologies that will keep digital information safe, while also creating new, well-paying jobs in the Waterloo region."
- The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism
The CSA's next step will be to request proposals from the space industry to develop the satellite needed for the QEYSSat mission.
Current quantum encryption technology, called quantum key distribution, relies on ground fibre optic cables and is currently limited to a 200-kilometre distance. A future QEYSSat mission would seek to demonstrate quantum key distribution between a satellite and a grounded network as a way to overcome the distance limits.
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